Signs of Faith, "God Hates Hate"
BY Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum
June 24 2009 11:00 PM ET
"God hates fags." "God hates Jews." These signs and others like them were held up by a group picketing my synagogue on Sunday morning.
In response my congregation held a nonviolent, peaceful prayer vigil. Our signs read, "We are ALL created in God's image". We prayed. We sang. We asked people to pledge money for every minute that these messengers of hate were at our doorstop. We raised $10,000.
Many had argued that we should ignore the members of Westboro Baptist Church who picketed us today: "They are fringe." "They don't represent a large group." "They don't speak for Christianity." "They should not be given the benefit of any attention at all."
I believe we cannot afford to ignore them.
Dr. George Tiller and Officer Stephen Tyrone Jones, the security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, were both killed by men who professed "fringe" ideology. Other members of the same "fringe" groups try to distance themselves from those heinous acts of murder: "We didn't mean for our words t o convince anyone to murder, our words were simply an expression of our beliefs," they claim.
The line that divides rhetoric and words of action is too easily blurred, especially in times like these, when more states stand poised to recognize the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens to marry, and the president of the United States supports an end to unjust laws like "don't ask, don't tell" and the Defense of Marriage Act and will sign hate-crimes and nondiscrimination legislation for the gay community. Perhaps it is because of this emerging societal shift that those who sit on the fringe have been pushed to seek retribution through violence.